Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Latest Equipment Discovery - Might Buy Me 30 More Years Of Running!

So, I've always had this "thing" for running shoes. From the day I started running back in the 70s, running shoe technology and performance has intrigued me. I started out wearing Brooks and loved them - smooth, comfortable ride for sure. That was back when I was young and had no real bio-mechanical / physiological issues. At about 42 my body seemed start falling apart and I had to switch up my approach to training and equipment to stay in the game. At that point, the running shoes I chose to wear became even more important to me due to the fact that some of them, can really help solve issues that long-distance running produced.

Last Summer, at USAT Triathlon National Championships in Vermont, I ran into an old friend from Phoenix who was there and I noticed his shoes and asked about them. He took them off, told me to put them on and run to to the fence and back - about 30 yds. I was immediately and I mean immediately, convinced that these were the shoes for me. The ride was like...a cloud...a pillow. They were the most comfortable running shoe I'd ever put on.

I'll let their web site do the explaining about what makes these so unique. Go to to learn more. They were developed in France and ultra-marathoners love them because they are so comfortable over dozens and dozens of miles. I have custom orthotics in mine which gives me the support that I need for my feet and the Hokas do the rest Check 'em out. They just might allow me to run another 30 years!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Can Athletes Learn From Border Collies???

Two days ago we had to put down our 13 year old Border Collie that we raised from when she was eight weeks old. Man, that was tough. Of course, times like this call for reflection and remembering...all the good times... I got "Newby" initially to be a running partner for me. I'd heard that Borders could run up to 50 miles in one day herding sheep. I thought, "Now THAT'S the dog for me!"

As I've reflected, I've so appreciated how God made (and man bred) this type of dog. I think athletes (not to mention the entire human race) could learn a few things from Border Collies. Here's just a few:

1. Be Active - Borders were created to always be working or playing. Their energy level is off the charts. Potential buyers are told, "Do not get a BC unless you live a very active lifestyle in which you can include your dog." BCs are always waiting for whatever job you want them to do or to go for a run or catch a Frisbee. Those that work on farms are worth three men I'm told. Some athletes think that if they only have a small amount of time that they may as well skip the planned workout or training session for the day. Don't do it. A little is WAY better than nothing. We think that a little is just a little better than nothing. Wrong. A 15 min. swim or run is way better than doing nothing. A 30 minute bike ride is not three hours, but it's WAY better than doing nothing. So, stay active!

2. Be Focused - Borders have the ability to concentrate like a scientist. If I had a Frisbee in my hand, Newby would NOT take her eyes off it til I let it fly. She was focused on exactly what she was going to do if/when it left my hand and she studied every move and twitch I made to try and figure out when it would be her's to run down. Athletes could learn from this. Study the sport in which you're trying to excel. Read about it. Talk to others who do it. Concentrate when you workout on your when I swim, I have to concentrate like Newby on the mechanics of my stroke if I'm going to improve.

3. Be Ready - Newby was always ready. You've heard the phrase, "I was born ready!" Well, I think a BC probably barked that first. Anytime the drawer where her leash was kept was opened...she was ready to GO! About 12 hours before we put her down, I took her for her last walk (the evening before the morning we took her in.) Even then, with a failing body, she perked up and was ready to go. Our last walk was very slow and only about 200 yds. total, but, she was ready.
Athletes need to be ready for whatever comes their way in competition. I tell the triathletes that I coach to be ready for three things to go wrong in every race. Just prepare yourself and be ready, then when (if) they happen, it's no surprise. Being ready includes mental preparation for "worst case scenarios" that can happen. Learn from Newby - be ready...for anything!

4. Be Loyal and Faithful - Newby's first love was my wife, Jennifer. She would
follow her all over the house...up the stairs, down the stairs, everywhere! If I tried to hug Jen, Newby would bark and get between us. That dog was loyal! All of us could learn from that. Newby exhibited unconditional love all the time. She was a faithful, loyal friend. Are we? Nuf said.

5. Do What You Were Born To Do - Newby's instincts were totally "Border Collie." She portrayed every behavior and skill that these dogs carry in them. Mainly bred to herd sheep and some cattle, BCs will charge at and cut off anything that's moving. Why? They might not even know - they just do it instinctively. What were you put on the earth to do? I can't answer that, other than to say that first and foremost, you were put here to know and love God and to serve Him and others. Beyond that, we each have a unique calling from God and destiny He's given us. Discover what that is and just do it. It may flow out instinctively right from the start or, it may take a bit of discovery and development, but when you find it, you're then in your "sweet spot," and work, no longer is work.

So, there are a few things we can learn from Border Collies. YouTube them and watch what they can do. You'll be astounded. They rank at the top of most dog intelligence lists. Newby was a special gift from God to us and we cherish the 13 years we had her. I've learned a lot from her for which I'll be forever grateful.